I’m moving to Jakarta, Indonesia on April 6th for a four-week teaching internship through my university. I have a 60-day visa and a one-way ticket.

Now you and I have exactly the same amount of information.

I haven’t been told yet where I will live. I haven’t been told what school I will teaching at. I don’t know what grade, subject, area I will be teaching in. I’ve googled the weather and the language, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to wear or expect.

Thus far I’ve been fine with this. Emailing for information, getting nothing back. When the anxiety would bubble up, I would shove it back down shrieking:

“NO NO NO crazy-cat, we can think about ONE goal at a time.”

That goal being to run 100 miles.

Well, that’s over now. Checked off. Now my mind is free to ponder the absurdities that are the decisions I make.

Like moving to another country without much of a plan.

I went to Bluestem Bistro this morning, purchased the Black Hole refillable coffee mug–like a good minimum-wage college kiddo–and nestled down in the sun to write my little heart out.

Okay, so right now I feel anxious, I wrote, because I feel like I don’t have what I need to do this. To move to Indonesia. To just start doing whatever. I don’t feel like I have the social skills, the right gear, the experience or the technique.

I reread that, felt that beacon of “YES true you feel this”, and then got a massive lick of insight:

This was exactly how I felt the night before driving down to Arkansas for the 100-miler. Actually, this was how I felt for most of the training.

I didn’t feel like I had the social skills.

Who am I, this 21-year-old dreamer from flat Kansas, running alongside lemon-pepper seasoned ultra runners? They’ve known each other for years, run with each other for years, suffered alongside each other for years.

I run 100% of the time alone in my little bubble of dreamer-early-morning-solitude. Talking while running seems like a lot of effort.

I didn’t feel like I had the right gear.

Currently I’ve got $40.11 in my bank account. It took me a few months to save up for the race entry fee alone, let alone the gear to do it. My vest–ajonjie–was $30 on Amazon (and I SUPER recommend it, it’s brilliant and pocket-full). I love my Altras because they’ve got a wide-toe box for my caveman feet and they’re cheaper than other trail shoes.

I wear the same tights for every run, oscillate between two long-sleeved running shirts, and sport a black Eddie Bauer jacket I got at a second-hand store. It’s like my superhero outfit now.

The nicest thing I own–my Garmin Fenix watch–I got for Christmas.

Most ultra-runners have actual jobs. They have non-handmedown gear. They have training 50-milers leading up to the race.

I didn’t feel like I had the experience. 

A 50k is the farthest I’ve gone. Ultra-running is not like gymnastics; you get better with experience and age. The average ultra-runner peaks at like, 50. The suggested 100-miler plans I had googled began at a minimum of 26 weeks. That is, after having raced a 50k, 50-miler, and 100k of course.

Well, I only had 22-weeks. So I stopped googling and ran my heart out, 04:30 almost every morning. That didn’t make the doubt go away.

I didn’t feel like I had the technique. 

I blew out two pairs of Altras during the 22 weeks, and all on one side. I run weird on the outside of my foot, as shown below. This sometimes causes heel pain and other sorts of shenanigans.

IMG_0695.JPG

Altras on right: after 15 weeks.

 

What would happen to my feet after I ran three-and-a-half-times farther than I’ve ever practiced?

Yeah lots of doubt.

But then.

I just ran 100 miles anyways.

And it worked out.

When I eventually started running, I didn’t start to run 100 miles. I started to run 4 miles, then 4.5, then 4, then 4.5 Again, never the whole stretch. Just one peanut butter sandwich at a time.

I went to play a game with myself:

How many times can I start running again when I just want to lay down and cry?

I started the race, my own little race, without fear or anxiety. Which made sense: my amygdala wasn’t sensing anything unexpected. And the amygdala is what releases the freakout.

I’ve run 4 miles loads of times. There wasn’t anything unknown or unexpected in that which might release the fear.

Moving to Indonesia and figuring out how to get a job and live there potentially for ages and try to fit in with the culture and learn the language and be superwoman triggers my amygdala.

Duh.

Never done any of that before.

But I have packed up my belongings, said good-bye to my parents and friends, and left for an extended period of time when I moved to Austria.

I have gotten on a plane bound for a country of people who speak a different language. Hallo, mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut. 

I have taught hours upon hours of English to students who don’t really want to be there. Shout-out to the front row.

I have travelled on my own, met other amazing crazy psycho travelers in hostels, learned a language (kind of), adapted, adapted, adapted. 

And as I reflect upon the 100 one week later: I didn’t actually die. The social skills, right gear, experience, technique . . . it turns out that’s not what it takes.

In one month I will get on the plane like I got on the start line. Never going the whole distance, just a bit at a time.

Adapt.

Adapt.

Adapt.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

–Charles Darwin.

Let’s do this.

Peace and blessings,

Josie

 

2 Comments on “What running 100 Miles taught me about curbing Anxiety

  1. Your thirst for adventure and confidence to tackle challenges head on is most impressive. I look forward to reading about your experiences and progress in Indonesia. Wishing you the best journey possible. You are a true inspiration.

    Like

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